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Sensor system benefits and costs in positive train control
Author(s): Raj Bridgelall; Bryan King; Ying Huang; Denver D. Tolliver; Pan Lu
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Paper Abstract

Positive train control (PTC) is a system that combines sensors, communications, and actuators to stop a train automatically before certain types of accidents occur. The PTC implementation requirements are part of a 2008 congressional mandate. Information about PTC benefits and costs are from reports between 2004 and 2010. Since then, the complexities and rush to comply with the mandated installation deadline of December 2018 has led to a scarcity of updated information about actual costs and anticipated benefits. The purpose of this study is to share a current understanding of the potential benefits and costs of PTC deployments. The finding is that the Class I railroads collectively incurred an estimated average cost of $224,738 per route mile. Analysis of safety data for the five years preceding the 2018 mandate found that accidents due to human factors or failures in signaling and communication systems accounted for 31.6% of the aggregated financial loss. If PTC could have prevented those accidents, then direct benefits to Class I railroads would have averaged $92 million annually. These results indicate that it is unlikely that the savings from accident prevention alone would offset the costs of PTC deployment and its annual maintenance needs. However, the installed infrastructure of sensor interfaces and wireless networks provides opportunities to realize additional benefits from incremental investments in other systems. Those benefits could include rail-grade safety sensors and business enhancements such as improved line capacity, service reliability, equipment utilization, real-time diagnostics, fuel savings, and non-destructive evaluations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 27 March 2019
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 10970, Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2019, 109701R (27 March 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2512882
Show Author Affiliations
Raj Bridgelall, North Dakota State Univ. (United States)
Bryan King, North Dakota State Univ. (United States)
Ying Huang, North Dakota State Univ. (United States)
Denver D. Tolliver, North Dakota State Univ. (United States)
Pan Lu, North Dakota State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10970:
Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2019
Jerome P. Lynch; Haiying Huang; Hoon Sohn; Kon-Well Wang, Editor(s)

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